A guide to adopting dogs and cats in Shanghai

Shanghai has a large number of stray cats and dogs ready to be adopted and find their forever parents.

Some of them are abandoned, and others are social strays. If you're thinking about adopting a pet, you need to get yourself and your home prepared for the arrival of your furry friend.

It's important to first understand a pet's daily care and long-term needs and decide if you're willing to bring them into your home as a permanent family member. Like kids, they require a committed investment of time and money.

Commitment aside, there are rules when it comes to having pets in Shanghai. Restrictions apply mostly to dogs.

Shanghai requires dog owners to license their pets. The city has a one-dog-per-household address rule, so before the procedure you need to ask your landlord for permission. If you don't have a license, you technically can't own a dog and police can take your dog from you.

When your dog is healthy and old enough to be vaccinated, a microchip and rabies vaccination are done at a clinic that can issue a printed immunization card. The card is the first step in the dog licensing process.

Owners need to provide their ID number (or passport), local home address (using leaseholder's name for dog registration) and mobile number. The next stop is applying for the dog license issued by the Shanghai Public Security Bureau.

These days, dog license applications and yearly renewals are done online in an official WeChat account 麦道. In addition to your dog's immunization card details, household and personal documentation must be uploaded in the application: the owner's passport, a valid visa, household lease (ideally with a clause permitting pets) and property registration certificate details. Your dog's spay/neuter certificate can also be uploaded, which reduces the license fee by half.

Dog license fees are 500 yuan (US$70) within the Inner Ring Elevated Road and 300 yuan beyond that. The fee is reduced 50 percent if your dog has a sterilization certificate.

To renew your dog license, your dog needs a yearly rabies vaccine and an updated immunization card. Then using the online program, your dog license can be renewed. The yearly license fee is also 500 yuan within the Inner Ring Elevated Road and 300 yuan beyond that.

When dog owners move or leave Shanghai, they should remove their dog's license from their old residence. Several owners have had their license application blocked due to a previous dog still registered in their address.

A guide to adopting dogs and cats in Shanghai

With so many cats and dogs looking for a good home, choose a healthy pet that best fits your home and lifestyle by asking about an animal's medical and social history.

The city has a number of organizations helping four-legged companions find a permanent home.

Second Chance Animal Aid (SCAA)

It is a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 trying to rescue and save as many animals as possible. As well as adoptions, SCAA educates and advocates for animal welfare and offers medical care. Expats new to the city can visit their bilingual website for detailed information.

WeChat: SCAAShanghai

Website: scaashanghai.org

TA Shanghai

It was started by Chris Lau in 2011 with its advocacy based on "rational rescuing, scientific pet raising and preferring adoption to purchase." They also advocate a trap-neuter-release program and provide neuter vouchers at veterinarians' offices.

WeChat: TA上海

Furry Friends

Founded in 2016, it is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that rescues, protects and provides care for stray animals and at-risk pets. They have rescued more than 1,200 animals so far and are looking for new volunteers, foster families, adopters and flight volunteers. If you don't plan to adopt, you can still support the organization financially.

WeChat: FurryFriends

Paw Pals Animal Rescue (PPAR)

It is a Shanghai-based shelter founded in 2007 by a group of individual animal rescuers with the main objective of helping homeless cats in the Shanghai area. PPAR shelter is open to visitors every weekend from 1pm to 5pm. People who want to adopt a companion animal should contact PPAR via e-mail first. (ppar_sh@163.com)

WeChat: PPAR_sh

Website: ppar-shanghai.com